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Have you been to the Craigie St Bistro at it's new location?

l
LindaBarbara Dec 20, 2008 07:35 AM

Just wondering if any of you have dined at the Craigie Street's new location in Cambridge where LaGroceria had been located. I've never eaten at the restaurant and would like your opinion. Thanks.

  1. MC Slim JB Dec 20, 2008 07:56 AM

    I was impressed overall with my first experience there. It's nice to dine in a non-basement space with a lot more elbow room and a full bar. The bar is still finding its feet (very, very, very slow service when it's busy), but with an ex-ESK guy (Tom Schlesinger) at the helm, the cocktails are excellent. I had a beautiful Martinez done with a house-made re-creation of Carpano Antica Formula, which isn't yet distributed in MA but is maybe my favorite sweet vermouth out there.

    Food is pretty much everything it was in the old space -- a kind of luxurious take on French bistro cooking with a locavore slant, which makes for fantastic vegetable dishes. The menu is rather larger, and there's now a bar menu of small plates and a "neighbors" (or something like that) menu that is basically a budget-priced prix fixe, an excellent deal.

    One odd note: my server suggested I eat my fried smelts "like corn on the cob", i.e., chewing around the bones. "What? You don't eat smelts whole?" I replied, which is how I eat them, and did. It would be crazy to try to avoid those bones, which are easily chewable and digestible.(The smelts were wonderful.)

    Aside from that bit of weirdness, I thought the service was fine, the wine list good (though not bargain-rich). It's kind of fun to be able to see into the open kitchen. Overall a very positive first look.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      z
      zizzpudding Dec 22, 2008 12:49 PM

      My mother used to serve us fried smelts every Friday night and we ate them whole too. Maybe some people have an aversion to bones ;) Thanks for the glowing recommendation. We haven't been to the new location but are looking forward to it. One of the best meals I've ever had in Boston was at the old location... can't wait.

    2. BostonZest Dec 20, 2008 08:54 AM

      We never made it to the old location. I knew my dear dining companion would be uncomfortable in that space. But, we have had two wonderful meals at the bar in the new space.

      It has been added to our regular rotation.

      1. WineAG Dec 20, 2008 11:29 AM

        No question Tony is a brilliant chef... one of Boston area's great talents. I dined there a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed my meal. The new place is most different than the old place... as Slim suggests, the food doesn't miss a beat. Although they were only open 2 weeks it already had a comfortable feeling.. as if it had already been there a long time. Service/timing when we went was fine. Like before, some dishes are more straight forward, others show incredible creativity (particularly if you have the tasting menu.. which is what we ordered)... all executed perfectly.

        The new place... I love seeing Tony out front in the new "open" kitchen. I love the new bar area. I find the regular dining space to be just ok, but still an improvement over where he was. So all in all it's a nice upgrade. The guy is so talented it’s hard not wanting Craigie St. to be more of a "fine dining" restaurant... as you see so many flashes of that kind of brilliance in the cooking. When they dropped the "bistro" in the name when they moved I wasn't sure what to expect... perhaps they were going a bit more upscale? Now we just have to remember that this is a bistro. It's super busy, and especially now that there’s a large bar area it’s much louder... that's what fights the "fine dining" aspect. So, if you go with the idea that it's a bistro, you'll be extremely happy. The new place brought back flashes of the old days when Olives was in it’s glory… I found a similar vibe and energy level.

        I enjoyed the dining room (actually the restaurant is one big open space… the open kitchen in the middle, dining room to the left, bar to the right). All in all, I think the best place to experience Craigie St. is to eat in the bar area. You can order from the main restaurant menu... but you can also order from the excellent bar menu (not so if you’re in the main dining room). So the bar offers the best of both worlds… you can have whatever you want in a relaxed atmosphere… trust me, you won't find food like this in any other bar around.

        1. a
          AGM_Cape_Cod Dec 21, 2008 06:26 AM

          I have a friend in the neighborhood but her budget isn't really up to Craigie Street. Can you elaborate on the prices of 'neightbors' menu? Also the bar menu dishes listed on the website look interesting. Are they kind of tapas sized? TIA.

          1. u
            Uncle Yabai Dec 21, 2008 06:37 AM

            I ate there a couple of weeks ago. I spend most of my time in Tokyo, so my wife and I have some absurd standards for quality. We both thought it was a standout for the Boston food scene, and quite good in an absolute sense. The smelts were fantastic, and to be eaten whole, head and all, of course.

            Service was unusual in that there is a lot of staff, and all of them are quite attuned to the diner and the food, and very enthusiastic and obviously chosen for a desire to do a good job.

            Very busy and crowded with the usual Cambridge sweater and tweed types, but don't let that scare you away.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Uncle Yabai
              c
              Canadian Tuxedo Dec 21, 2008 04:23 PM

              Would the crowd scare someone away, or the "usual Cambridge sweater and tweed types?"

              I ask because as a semi-regular at the Craigie St. location, and twice at the new Main St. location, I have worn sweaters on many of the visits to both. And I live in Cambridge. So I suppose I feel a bit put off by that comment--as if a somewhat relaxed dress code means the food should not be the equal (or, in my opinion, better) than the vast majority found across the river. Suits, or jackets and ties, do not equal quality. In fact, perhaps not the best all around experiences, but among the best particular plates, can be found at small casual restaurants all across this country.

              I would agree with MC in that I have found the drink service is a bit slow if you are not sitting at the bar, yet still better than what I've experienced at Eastern Standard (if not sitting at the bar). The food has been equal to the old location (though still has not yet surpassed a particularly outstanding Chef's Whim I experienced several years ago), though my girlfriend (who is a vegetarian) found our recent Chef's Whim the best she's ever had.

              All in all still a jewel among Boston-area restaurants.

              1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                Sgt Snackers Dec 21, 2008 07:53 PM

                I always loved the somewhat casual atmosphere at the original Craigie Street, and would hate to see it become yet another place where people do the whole dressing-up-for-the-sake-of-dressing-up thing. There are, of course, restaurants where that is mandated, and makes sense, but at CSB it would just come across as fake and pretentious. That place is about the food, which is stellar, and it need not be any fancier than it has to be to have a good time. So wear your sweaters with pride.

                1. re: Sgt Snackers
                  MC Slim JB Dec 22, 2008 03:23 AM

                  I can't imagine Craigie on Main instituting a jackets-required or even -suggested dress code. Cambridge is Cambridge; the casualness of its restaurants relative to Boston's is part of its charm.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    b
                    BostonCharles Jan 5, 2009 11:34 PM

                    I regularly eat on both sides of the river. And really find neither to be particularly dressy - I wear jeans to L'espalier. Not sure where the idea of boston and dressing up comes from

                    1. re: BostonCharles
                      MC Slim JB Jan 6, 2009 04:43 AM

                      Do you mean "Not sure if Boston restaurant crowds are dressier than Cambridge's" or "Not sure where the idea of dressing up for dinner came from?"

                      If it's the former, I'd say anecdotally speaking, I've long observed that Cambridge diners dress more casually, even in nicer restaurants.

                      If it's the latter, it's an idea of scaling the formality of one's dress to the occasion that has clearly become old-fashioned in the US. It feels a little Grumpy Old Man to complain about this -- our culture is what it is -- but I have some real nostalgia for a time when people wouldn't (and couldn't) wear jeans to high-end restaurants.

                      I've noticed a big dropoff in the formality of the patrons at the new L'Espalier compared to the old, which I've attributed to its inability to turn hotel guests away. As I've said before here, I'm just grateful these days when men bother to doff their baseball caps in a restaurant.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                        b
                        BostonCharles Jan 6, 2009 10:59 PM

                        My own far from scientific opinion - I don't see people dressed any differently in Cambridge. Aside from a certain professorial attire being a bit more prevalent in Cambridge, I'd say the degree of difference is minor. I dress the same in both places (what I like to call urban assault bruise - black sweater, blue jeans & etc) and never feel out of place in either.

                        I respectfully disagree on the formality. If I'm paying, I like to decide how I'm dressed. If someone else pays me, they can call the shots. But dressing for dinner to my mind would involve a tuxedo, not a bad suit, which is what you are more likely to see. I'd rather see a good pair of jeans.

                        I even get a bit militant on the baseball cap thing sometimes, but think I am on thinner ice on that one.

                        As an aside, I used to wear jeans to the old l'espalier and never felt out of place...

                        1. re: BostonCharles
                          h
                          heypielady Jan 7, 2009 05:16 AM

                          I have to agree with MC Slim JB. As a cantabridgian I have noticed a much more casual dress code on this side of the river. Sometimes its as if cambridge believes its in some remote mountain community... lots of cords and lots of fleece.

                          I think the comparison of Boston and Cambridge formality works best with more neighborhood type places as opposed to restaurants like Salts or Craigie. (Although on NYE at Craigie a fellow diner was wearing regular jeans and a hoodie...but it was quite a snowstorm out there)

                      2. re: BostonCharles
                        almansa Jan 15, 2009 04:17 PM

                        I'm not so sure l'Espalier appreciates that. I know dining-out attire has become much more casual the last few years, but we do like to see some jackets and ties now and again.

                  2. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                    u
                    Uncle Yabai Dec 22, 2008 09:16 PM

                    I guess I meant it more on the self-righteousness, preciousness, judgmental nature, and thin skin of the crowd there. You know, the kind of people that feel smug about people who may make specious connections between the quality of the food and the dress code or the dress style of the patrons.

                    1. re: Uncle Yabai
                      The Chowhound Team Dec 23, 2008 03:42 AM

                      Hi Hounds, sorry for interrupting, but we'd like to remind everyone to please focus on discussing the chow, rather than speculate/generalize on the attitudes of the crowd based on what they wear. As for more detailed discussions of dress codes in general, please continue on the Not About Food board. Many thanks for helping us keep the boards focused on chow and happy holidays!

                2. j
                  jajjguy Dec 22, 2008 06:11 AM

                  I've been to the bar several times, and it's been great. The fact of the bar is a huge improvement all by itself over the old location, in my book. The bar menu also makes it possible to do a less-than-full meal, which means you can control the size of your bill more directly. And yes, the smelts are great.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jajjguy
                    heathermb Dec 22, 2008 09:12 AM

                    Any reports on the burger? Any other suggestions off the bar menu?

                  2. c
                    C. Monkey Dec 23, 2008 06:28 PM

                    I just got back from dinner at Craigie on Main, and I have to say my boyfriend and I were underwhelmed. The appetizers (smelts and cock's comb+sausage fricassee) were really good if not all that exciting (because of the poached egg, the fricassee comes off like an unusually delicious diner breakfast), but our entrees (skate and polenta) were pretty lame. The skate (breaded and pan-fried, I think) was good but again unexciting - a little fish-and-chipsy. The polenta was bland and cheesy comfort food, and came with a side of fresh mixed vegetables that reminded me of school lunches. Broccoli and carrots in December? The madelines that came with the check were delicious, but honestly $140 for those two small appetizers, those two small entrees, and a pretty good bottle of wine is too much. The food was good but not spectacular, and not worth the bill. Maybe they're still settling in, so I hope to check it out again in a few months.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: C. Monkey
                      MC Slim JB Dec 23, 2008 07:30 PM

                      Considering this place's reputation (mostly deserved in my experience) for great vegetables, that meal does sound disappointing and expensive. Maybe try the neighbors' menu next time? (Lower cost and risk).

                      The other issue people will bring to this place is an awful lot of hype over what is essentially elevated bistro cooking (and the newspaper reviews for the new location aren't even out yet). It's very, very good, occasionally extraordinary, but folks shouldn't go in expecting the angels to weep.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                        barleywino Dec 24, 2008 03:29 AM

                        I did get to try the sea trout sous vide and a few of the seafood carpaccios, and thought they were well above even elevated bistro cooking in execution (and worth the hype). Agree on the house Antica vermouth, also, nice cherry notes. They're working on a house Amer Picon which I got to sample, also excellent (allspice dram, perhaps?).

                      2. re: C. Monkey
                        t
                        T.Clark Dec 24, 2008 05:07 AM

                        I have to agree. I went last week with my SO and was disappointed in the overall experience. We tried the turnip soup with Boudin blanc. Nice, but the flavor of the sausage became imperceptible after being submerged in the soup. The lamb rillette was dry as saw dust and a very awkward presentation. Mixed greens were fine. Chicken was cooked nicely but the resulting dish was salty. There was leg confit on the dish so I would expect a little saltiness, but after a few bites all you could think about was the salt. The pork duo suffered the same affliction as the chicken. Again cured pork belly and jowl so I should have known this would be on the salty end of the spectrum but with little else to foil the salt the dish became tiresome to eat. The side of marrow bones seemed a bit undercooked, and I did not like the presentation of the bones being split. Bones and bread, where’s the love on that dish? Chocolate dessert with thin graham cracker layers was very good and not salty. Did any one pick up on the spice that seemed to make it’s way into almost every dish we tried, maybe cardamom?

                        I actually found the menu too small. Six entrees the night we went, not including the tasting menus which were really mixed and matched from the regular offerings with maybe a couple non menu offering sprinkled around.

                        We made reservations two weeks in advance and were disappointed to be sat at the high tops in front of the kitchen. Definitely got bumped from main dining room. I did not find it relaxing. If the circumstances were different (i.e. a casual dinner with friends) I wouldn’t have minded so much. The bar area was closed for a private party. The hostess was ice cold. The service was good. I thought the wine list was OK but most of the wines offered are fairly obscure so some knowledge is required.

                        Overall a C+

                        1. re: T.Clark
                          j
                          jajjguy Jan 1, 2009 08:11 AM

                          I've always enjoyed their wine list. It's not a bargain list, though it is not especially overpriced, and there are some good inexpensive options. I mostly do not recognize specific wines on the list, which, because I generally trust their judgment, feels like a good thing: I get to try something new. Ordering by region and price point, I've never been disappointed. And it doesn't hurt to ask for help choosing.

                          1. re: T.Clark
                            d
                            drrob Jan 7, 2009 07:04 PM

                            I unfortunately must agree with T.Clark that our experience there this evening was disappointing. The food is actually quite good, but the service was amazingly apathetic.
                            It's difficult to understand, actually, since there appears to be a lot of wait staff around but they seemed to get lost after taking one's order. They were apologetic at the end, blaming it on the kitchen being overwhelmed on a busy (Wednesday?) evening, but the kitchen wasn't responsible for a glass of wine taking 10 minutes to come to the table. The bar area is very attractive and generally the restaurant's ambience and appearance is an improvement of the old location (and the parking is better.) I'll probably try it again, but am a bit wary.

                            1. re: drrob
                              k
                              kimfair1 Jan 8, 2009 05:59 AM

                              That's too bad as I've had nothing but exemplary service there. The wine delay could be because the bar gets behind with all the cocktail mixing, but I'd give them another chance.

                        2. k
                          kimfair1 Dec 25, 2008 07:44 AM

                          We went for the second time in the new location last night (first was during the soft-opening). We had the six course tasting menu which was phenomenal. We added on the extra for the truffle extras, which came on the last three savory courses. We sat at the kitchen bar, and the show of watching the cooks was really fun, especially when Tony got pissed at the staff. The meal consisted of:

                          amuse of smoked sablefish w/roe and potato chip - something I thought I would hate but really enjoyed (I'm not much for the smoked fish usually).

                          First course: Sashimi of scallop with radishes and beets, and a sashimi of sea bass - both outstanding.

                          Second: slow roasted monkfish - again not usually one of my faves, but really outstanding, moist and flavorful without being too fishy.

                          Third: Winter vegetable potage with rabbit sausage - much happier that it was rabbit instead of the boudin noire, which I can take or leave, but the wife really dislikes.

                          Fourth: seared pork belly with yummy accompaniments. Got to eat the last quarter of my wife's as well. So good.

                          Fifth: Venison with vegetables and chestnuts and those amazing truffles, served by Tony himself!

                          Sixth: first dessert was one each of the two types of panna cotta, and then a second dessert where I got the sweet grits with fruit, and my wife received a napoleon made with layers of house made graham crackers and chocolate mousse. Really outstanding! One of the best meals I've eaten recently, perfect in every way.

                          I know some posters have been less than enthusiastic, but perhaps it's just what they ordered. I know that I've had the polenta there and it didn't wow me, but the wow factor was huge last evening. I also have decided that instead of the $75 three course a la carte menu, that I'll stick with the $80 six course surprise menu. Bigger portions on the three course, and you get your choice of food, but I like the surprise of the six course.

                          1. s
                            stradacouple Dec 25, 2008 03:38 PM

                            We are going tomorrrow night. Cannot wait to try this restaurant.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: stradacouple
                              k
                              kimfair1 Dec 26, 2008 04:23 AM

                              If you are at all adventurous, I'd highly recommend the six course tasting.

                            2. s
                              stradacouple Dec 27, 2008 05:14 AM

                              Had dinner there last night. Had never been to their old location and wanted to try it based on I had seen/heard here. So here are my thoughts. Used the valet ($12 vs the ususl $16 charge at most Boston restaurants). Upon entering, saw the large bar space to the right, the main dining area to the left and kitchen right in front of us. It was a "hubub" of activity. We were seated in the dining room.

                              Pros: Overall I would say that the ambiance is warm, attractive and somewhat casual. We had the 6 course tasting menu (they gave us 8 adding an additional main and desert course). All of the food was good to very good. The service stands out here, with very attentive staff. They provided detailed descriptions of each course (sometimes adding their personal thoughts/comments. You can tell they cared about your experience. The gave great wine recommedations and I would follow their lead anytime). Our dinner was well paced we were there for just over 3 hours).

                              Cons: White paper covered the taplecloths (personally I am not a big fan of this). The tables for 4 are much to close together. I lost count of the rear ends that bumped (both patrons and wait staff) into our table/chairs during the evening. I know that tables = money, but I'd remove one and it would make a big difference navigating the dining room.

                              I will be back and want to try out their bar (when we were leaving the host told us that they take reservations for tables at the bar) as well as the "neighborhood menu".

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: stradacouple
                                WineAG Dec 27, 2008 07:02 AM

                                Your review is very accurate. As I mentioned above, the new location is still a bistro. Those who go with that in mind will be happy. Some people talk about Craigie in the same breath as Clio, L'Espalier, etc. Those who go expecting that will be dissapointed. While there are elements of these places the Criagie experience is not fine dining. I too found the tables spaced a bit too close... the waitstaff having to perform a few gymnastic moves to get to their desired destination.

                                Agree with you... I'd prefer the dining area to go a little more upscale as well. I hope it evolves in that direction... which will allow Tony to fully explore his amazing talent.

                                1. re: WineAG
                                  p
                                  plafield Jan 1, 2009 03:54 PM

                                  My husband and I celebrated New Years Eve with the 5 course menu at Craigie and it was quite delicious. I would return there in heartbeat. The place was packed and the small army of help were delightfully helpful, friendly, efficient and professional. The food was delicious. Some items stood out above others, but overall the quality and presentation were stellar. Expensive? Yes. But considering it was New Years Eve and it's Cambridge at a restaurant with a great reputation we were more than pleased with our experience.

                                  It is indeed bistro food, not elegant high end dining but the ingredients are of extreme high quality and what we had was well prepared and had some very special flavors. I'd definitely recommend it.

                                  1. re: plafield
                                    t
                                    T.Clark Jan 7, 2009 07:24 AM

                                    Maybe it's me but I'm having a hard time putting an expensive upscale restaurant in the Bistrot category.

                                    1. re: T.Clark
                                      WineAG Jan 7, 2009 07:32 AM

                                      Like its former name, Craigie St. Bistro, I view it as as a high-end bistro. The fact that it's expensive, and can approach more traditional upscale restaurants in price... esp with the tasting menus, doesn't change that. If it's not a bistro, then how would you classify it?

                                      1. re: WineAG
                                        t
                                        T.Clark Jan 8, 2009 06:14 AM

                                        Certainly we're all entitled to our opinions. Craigie just didn't conjure up that bistro feeling for me. The pricing, the offerings, and the service just didn’t add up to what I expect from a bistro. It's not a total knock on the restaurant but I would feel mislead if I was expecting a bistro experience. The fact that it's an expensive bistro seems to me like an oxymoron. Certainly it's closer to No.9 than it is to Petite Robert.

                                        Here’s my issue…..Pork belly, no matter how you manipulate it, is supposed to be an inexpensive dish, not $30+. It’s wonderful that they procured it from a local Cambridge farm, but It's still bacon. A $36 hanger steak borders on gouging.

                                        I guess I need to go back and give it another shot because my first experience was less than memorable (especially with a $400 bistro tab for 2) but I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to my feelings on this place.

                                        One last thing I didn’t mention, a thank you on the way out would be nice when dropping that kind of money at a bistro.

                                        1. re: T.Clark
                                          n
                                          newyorker1 Jan 9, 2009 08:04 AM

                                          I've been to the Craigie St. location probably about 5-10 times (including the last hurrah dinner), and just visited the Main St. location for the first time last night. We had a really great experience.

                                          We sat at a table in the bar area, which was a bit cramped (right next to the next table) but not uncomfortably. The bar area is a bit loud (I wouldn't pick it for a quiet romantic dinner) but it had a good energy, and overall I definitely liked the look of the new place (haven't had a chance to check out the dining room yet.)

                                          We shared the fried smelts (excellent) as a starter. Entrees ordered at the table included crispy skate wing and the curry-oil-poached trout -- both were well received. I had the $36 hanger steak mentioned above -- I was a bit concerned when the dish arrived filling up only half the plate, but there was a very decent amount of slices of very tender, very flavorful, medium-rare steak (much more tender than any other hanger steak I've tried.) The excellent beef tongue, mushrooms, and red rice went very well with the steak. I finished the meal feeling completely full, and also feeling that the $36 price was not at all unreasonable for the quantity and quality of the food.

                                          For dessert we had the profiteroles with banana ice cream (very good), and gingerbread pain perdu with young ginger ice cream (excellent).

                                          The service was also just the right level of attentive, and definitely made us feel well cared for.

                                          I've had some standout meals at Craigie over the years, and some that have not quite met that expectation but have still been very good. This was definitely an excellent meal. I'd go back there in a heartbeat (in fact I'm planning on a trip to check out the libations and bar nibbles next week.)

                                          1. re: newyorker1
                                            BostonZest Jan 9, 2009 08:42 AM

                                            That Gingerbread was wonderful. Going again this weekend. I hope it's still on the menu. My husband said "this is the best gingerbread I've ever had." I replied, "This is the best gingerbread anyone has ever had."

                                            1. re: BostonZest
                                              h
                                              heypielady Jan 9, 2009 09:26 AM

                                              I love gingerbread. I hope that's still on the menu when I go in a couple weeks for my birthday. Way better than any birthday cake.

                              2. d
                                dulce de leche Jan 15, 2009 11:09 AM

                                We had a great evening here, esp good drinks and dessert. The staff seemed so intense, hustling and knit brows all the time--I don't know if it's the set up of the space, being so long, or what, but it got me kind of wound up, being around so much energy. And yet the service was slow...(not that we minded, we don't like being in a hurry anyway).

                                Anyway, a question: we sat at the bar and had drinks, a primo each, and a dessert (the profiteroles--holy mamma they were good). We were sent a delicious infused panna cotta each and little cups of spiced hot chocolate pre-dessert.

                                Does anyone know if that is standard there? Or was it to make up for the lull in between courses? I wanted to tip appropriately, presumably to the bartender, but it was presented "compliments of the chef", who I could not have imagined on a Friday night would have noticed our existence. It was a nice touch and the tastes were lovely, esp the chocolate.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: dulce de leche
                                  barleywino Jan 15, 2009 03:46 PM

                                  the panna cotta and hot chocolate seem to be standard there

                                  1. re: dulce de leche
                                    u
                                    Uncle Yabai Jan 16, 2009 04:41 AM

                                    I saw a number of the staff wearing Brass Rats. Those types of dudes and dudettes (being one myself) tend to be intense by design.

                                    1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                      yumyum Jan 16, 2009 08:35 AM

                                      I just had to google Brass Rats. I learn something new every day. Thank you.

                                  2. h
                                    heypielady Jan 26, 2009 04:57 AM

                                    After having a lovely New Year's Eve tasting menu at Craigie I wanted to try the bar menu for a casual birthday dinner. Friday night MR and I started off with a couple of cocktails (he had the Northern Lights and I had the Camino Cocktail.) Both cocktails were very good but I preferred the Champs Elysees I had last time. It was a little more delicate.

                                    For an appetizer we had the fried smelts which were excellent. I always ate these as a kid but my mom always incinerated them into oblivion. It was nice to have them NOT overdone.

                                    We both got the burgers which were delicious. Its served with shoestring sweet potato fries that are so thin they are like thin shreds of potato, kind of hard to eat but still crispy salty and yummy. The burger also came with a frisee salad. I usually don't like frisee but it had a great lemony dressing on it that offset the bitterness of frisee.
                                    Was it the best burger ever? I have no idea. I'm giving up on that premise... but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The patty itself was generous and it was cooked perfectly. All those brioche bun haters will be pleased its a served on a straight up sesame bun. The Grafton cheddar on top tied the whole thing together.

                                    Even though I had a birthday cake waiting for me at home i still order the gingerbread for dessert. I liked it but the real star of the dessert was the scoop of ginger ice cream on top.

                                    I finished with Arak Toddy (like a hot toddy). If you like pernod and you like hot toddys, you will like this.

                                    Having eaten on both side of the restaurant, I have to say I liked the bar side better. It was a little less cramped and you can order off either menu when you sit over there.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: heypielady
                                      p
                                      Parsnipity Jan 26, 2009 08:05 AM

                                      Heypielady- I just got an email from the Craigie people- I must have listed my birthday at some point for them and I got a message that they would give a complimentary cocktail and "surprise" on my birthday. So, did you go ON your actual birthday or would a day or two off be okay, and did you get a "surprise"?

                                      1. re: Parsnipity
                                        h
                                        heypielady Jan 26, 2009 08:15 AM

                                        I did go on my actual birthday and I wouldn't have even brought it to the wait staff's attention but they carded me when I ordered a drink (Yes! Just turned 31 so that was "surprise" enough). My husband paid the bill so I didn't check if I got a complimentary anything but I have a feeling I did not. I bet you have to be on their email list to get that deal and I bet you do have to go on your actual birthday. They did put a candle on (or rather next to) my gingerbread, though. No singing, thank God.

                                        1. re: heypielady
                                          p
                                          Parsnipity Jan 26, 2009 08:37 AM

                                          Well, if I make it there on my birthday I'll let you know what the surprise is-- the email says "a surprise to take home." By the way, you should be flattered- I'm 31 and haven't been carded there...

                                          1. re: Parsnipity
                                            s
                                            shellicopter Jan 29, 2009 06:18 AM

                                            I'm going here tonight for my birthday dinner, it was technically yesterday so I don't know if I can finagle any "surprises", regardless, what should I order? I tend to like lighter food, thinking about starting with the sashimi but very open in terms of entree....what are the top entrees there lately? I've never been here or to their old location and I'm looking for something clean and delicious. Thanks!

                                            1. re: shellicopter
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                                              newyorker1 Jan 29, 2009 07:07 AM

                                              I went on my actual birthday earlier this month -- I also had received an emailed coupon for a complementary champagne cocktail and dessert. I presented it while ordering initial drinks, and both came as advertised (re: the dessert, we ordered two to share among the table and one was comped per the coupon -- which was more flexiblity than I had expected.)

                                              All in all, it was an excellent birthday dinner, and the birthday freebies were the icing on the cake. (It was also cool that the waiter we had remembered me from my visits to the old location, even though I had visited probably just a handful of times.)

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